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Full text of "Souvenir history of Palmer Park, Detroit, Michigan, and sketch of Hon. Thomas W. Palmer, sage of Log Cabin Farm"

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NSoixvenix^ and Illii:>strAted 
nisstor^ of Paltrier^ Part 




Published by 

Silas Farmer & Company 

29-31 Monroe Ave. 
Detroit, Michigan. 


Souvenir History of Palmer Park 

Detroit, Michigan 


Hon. Thomas W. Palmer 

Sage of Log Cabin Farm 

Crocket McElroy 

,!] + ■ 

AUG 1 ?3Ub 

A XXc N.. 

(3 ilC 



PALMER PARK, is so named in lidiinr of Hon. Thomas \\ . I 'aimer who gave it to the city of Detroit. 
It is located in the township of ( ireenfield, Wayne Comity. The entrance is on Woodward Avenue, six 
and a half miles north from the lity Hall and about two miles l)eyond the city limits. 

The land embraced in the park was formerly a part of.tlie Log Cabin Farm. It was first owned by the 
French Government, next by the English government and then bv the United States. In .\pril IS'.'."}. the E. 1-2 of 
the S. W. 14 of Sec. 11 in T. 1 S. of R. 11 E. was patented by the United States to Francis I'.n.wmiig. This pat- 
ent was signed by "J. Q. Adams'" then the president. In the \ear IS-.'^ iliis so acre^ \\a> deeded li\' h'rancis 
Browning to James Witherell the grandfather of .\lr. Palmer. In June ISii:; the W. ' _■ <>i the >aiiie iiiiarter 
section was patented to James Witherell. This patent was signed liy ".Viidrew Jackson" the president, in a 
plain bold hand. 

This 160 acres of land became the property of Mr. Palmer's mother by descent from her father James 
Witherell and became his property by descent from his mother Mary Amy ^^'itherell Palmer in the year 1S74. 

,\bout the year 18T0 Mr. Palmer biiyint^ land adjoining the Kin acre^ and this continued until he had 
between TilO and 800 acres. About 1 Ki acres ..I this lan.l was laid out into a park by C^lmstead & Elliot, cele- 
brated landscape gardeners of ISostnn, Mass., under the general directions of Mrs. Palmer. The plan includes 
two lakes, several islands, pathways and between ti\e and six miles of roads. 

Mrs. Palmer designed the L. .g (. aliin and caused it to be built. She then furnished it with "olden time" 
furniture 50 to l:iit \ears nld. She caused the lakes to be dredged and built .a windmill to suppl\' them with 
water obtained from wells made in the sand banks. The lakes are now supplied 1)\' the citv water works al- 
though the windmill is kt-pt in running order and occasionally used. Mrs. Palmer also built the warder's cot- 
tage and the stable and made many other improvements in the ])ark. 

In the year 1893, the park was deeded unconditionally to the city of Detroit by Thomas W. Palmer and Lizzie 
M. Palmer his wife, except that the use of twelve acres including the Log Cabin and the right to take ice from 
the lake was reserved to Mr. Palmer while he lived. Some years ago this reserve was released to the city antl 


since then the city has been the exclusive owner of tlie land and the buildings, including the Log Cabin and it? 

Previous to the destructi<jn by tire of their elegant home located on the entire block bounded Ijv Wiiiidward 
Avenue, Frederick, John R. and Farnsworth streets, in the year 18t»4, Mr. and iMrs. Palmer occupied the Log 
Cabin a -Imn time each summer. In the fall of 1897 while the present large composite house on the farm was 
being finished, they made their home for three months in the Log Cabin. 


From its entrance at Woodward Avenue to its northern end the park is about one and a half miles long and 
the wi<lth varies from (itH) to P-'()t( feet, except that at the entrance it is narrower! t(^ about 2:<0 feet. It runs in 
a northwesterly direction and i^ in outline. In laying it out no attcnliim was paid t(i compass lines. 
The boundary lines are curved and swell near the center in length to it? greatest width. The north end is roinid 
like the end of one's finger. There are no ?(|uare corner? and no straight lines, except at the connection with 
Woodward Avenue. 

At the entrance there is a comfortable waiting room built by the city, of small tamarack logs with the bark 
on. It is about 24 feet by ;!(i feet in size and has a covered porch on the' Woodward Avenue side. Near the 
waiting room is a drinking fountain made of ])oroiis limestone hi-oiight fmni ( )hio. A Itroad asphalt walk leads 
to the Log Cabin. A good graveled roadwa\ n;n> .-doug the sontlnvest side n\ the park to the Casino. Elm 
shade trees, clusters of jiine and sumac, rows of flowering siniths and beds of tlowers beautifv this part of the 
park. l_\Ki,- p-RA.\CI-:.S 

One of the most attractive things in the |iark is thi-, hcaiiiilul lake, uamecl in memo 
mother, Mrs. Frances Merrill', It i? large for one <<i it> kind ;nid its iri-egular shape give- i 
natural lake. It lies just east of the Log C'al>in. It contains live small inlands the larger o)u 
Island." These islands are ornamented with native and e\ergreen trees. ( )n one of the - 
front of the Log Cabin is a light-house built on a stone founilation, which gives it ,in air of 
ness. It was formerly lighted with an oil lamp and showed a beautiful red, white and liltu\ 
lamp is now out of use, but the ]jark commissioner contemplates putting in an electric lami 
the light-house will be a unique ornament to the park. 


. Palmer's 
r.'incc of a 


ted "Duck 

t wl 

licit lies in 

t\- a 

nd useful- 


. The oil 

■n til 

lis is done 

LAKK. II\K'()|,|) A.\0 ro.NllAC ( ASCA I )K 

On the east bank of this lake the city has recently built a commodious resthouse where several hundred peo- 
ple can find shelter, the sides of the building are composed mostly of windows arranged to be hoisted and af- 
ford a free circulation of air. On the west bank of the lake stands a substantial and picturesque windmill 
(heretofore mentioned) with a pump-house and an elevated tank. Surrounding the lake are a number of 
mounds and pretty little grass covered hills made by the ingenious disposal of the earth obtained in excavating 
the lake. These elevations add materially to the beauty of the locality. 

A goodly number of park seats are placed in the vicinity of the lake. A rustic bridge crosses a narrow neck 
of the lake on the direct path to the Log Cabin. In the words of Senator Palmer, "the lake is a perfect breed- 
ing pond for gnldfi-^h." Many thousands of these aquatic beauties have their home in the lake and they multi- 
ply rapidly, liviii- ilure ihc year round; not only this, but they grow to an unusual size approaching two pounds 
in weight. Sunietinie> -warms of them give the surface of the water a reddish cast like clouds reddened by # 
setting sun. The overseer states that he placed 66 goldfish in the lake eight years ago, that he has since taken 
out 50,000 and there are thousands left. 

Much pleasure is afforded little children visitors, when crumbs of liread are thrown into the water to at- 
tract the fish, and then to see the fish disappear like a flash when the ducks come rushing over the top of the 
water to get the bread. 

The white house near the Log Cabin is the overseer's residence and is not open to the public. A little 
north of the Log Cabin is a rustic drinking fountain and two buildings for the convenience of visitors. A 
pen of fence rails surrounds three venerable beech trees scarred with the names or initials of many persons cut 
into the bark. The fence was built to save the lives of the trees. Sixteen electric lamps light a portion of the 
park. Improvements are being made slowly as the Park Commissioner thinks they are called for. In the south 
part of the park are some apple trees that were formerh- in the Log Cabin Farm orchard. 

There is a rustic shed and poultry house with bark roofs near the stable. In the poultry yard is a fine 
flock of large white Wyandotte hens and a beautiful peacock of the common variety that spreads a tail eight feet 
wide as he struts through the yard. Two beautiful white peacocks purchased lately in the city of Washington 
are among the attractions. There is a pigeon house and a fine asortment of pigeons, white ducks called Pekins 
and colored ducks called Rouens. also black and white turkeys. 


A fine liberty pole adorns the lawn south of the Log Cabin from which often floats the — Star Spangled 
1 lanner. 

Near the western entrance to the Log Cabin is a large bell hanging in a rustic frame, this bell was designed 
and cast by Paula Gomez, a founder, in Spain in 1793. It was taken to Mexico more than 100 years ago. The 
late William A. Moore, and the late Senator McMillan and a few other friends raised a fund and bought the 
bell and presented it to Senator Palmer, who gave it to the city of Detniit. The weight of (his bell is 1015 

On the Log Cabin lawn is a large boulder of light gray granite that was found on the L<ig Cabin Farm. A 
brass sun dial about eighteen inches in diameter has been placed on the top of this stone. 

It never tells the time at night, 

r>ut when the sun shines tells it right. 

No shooting is allowed in the park antl wild birds are not afraid to come there. Red squirrels are the only 
kind kept in the park. They are banished from P.elle Lsle Park because of a peculiar vicious habit which in- 
clines them to exterminate the other squirrels. 

Under a shed at the pump-house is a plow and ox yoke such as were used in Spain in 1492. The yoke is 
made of wood in the usual form, the bows or collars are made of cmii liusks or similar leaves plaited: they are 
left open at the bottom it is supposed so they can be tied. The plnw beam is made of a natural crook of wood 
of the right size and shape, to the top of the beam is attached a ])ole left round as it grew, which runs between 
the oxen and enters a mortise in the yoke. There is an iron point on the plow ; that and a few bolts constitute 
nearly all the iron that is used. These things were found in the dining room of the convent of La Rabida, an 
institution made famous by the fact that Christopher Columbus in ] 190 applied there for food for his little son 
Diego. He was kindly treated by the prior Juan Perez who had been the queen's confessor and through whose 
influence the queen was induced to give Columbus the means to start on his voyage which led to the discovery of 
.\merica. Manv Americans hold a reverent feeling for the famous convent. Senator Palmer purchased the 
plow and the yoke in Spain, brought them to the Log Cabin and gave them to the city of Detroit. 

In the yard near the stable is a h"^ cut fmni a 
spruce tree in tlie state of Washini,'ton : it is .'U! feet 
l<in<:j. was nine feet in diameter wlien cut and has 
sliriink t(i eight feet two inches. 'i"he Idg was cut (>'< 
feet lip from the butt of the tree to get where the 
(hameter was small enongh for it to pass through the 
railroad tnnnels. Tt was exhiliited at the World's Fair 
ill St. T.<)iiis and in many other cities throughout the 
cmmtry. There is a bear's cage in one end. some 
shelves and seats in the other end forming a sort of 
caiiin. The inside of the log has been mostly cut away. 
The city of Detroit paid one thousand dollars for the 
lug. It was kept for some time in I'.elle Isle Park and 
then transferred to Palmer Park. 

A large portion of the ])ark is covcrcil with a for- 
est of thrifty native, deciduous trees, of all sizes from 
tiny shrubs and saplings to high and stately trees 
three feet and more in diameter. The trees average 
small, stand close together and thus afford to jieople 
who know little of the wild woods, the charm nf a 
thick fiirest. 


The trees are in great variety, there being more than seventy kinds. There are seven kinds of oak, eleven 
kinds of willow, five kinds of thorn and the trees common to this section of the country, such as elm, maple, 
beech, hickorv. ash. basswnnrl, tamarack and birch. Among the rarer trees are sassafras, walnut, butternut, 
balm of gilead. >li]i|n.T\ -I'lni, plum and cherry. There is claimed to be a greater varicl>- .>t trees in Talmcr 
Park indigenmi- in llic s^il than there is in the whole of Europe with its millions nf acre- of furests. At a con- 
vention of park CDmmi.ssiiiners helil al tlie park a few years ago. it was agreed that there was no other such a 
primeval park, as Palmer Park, within thirty miles of anv cit\ in the United States. 

If the reader will halt here and gi\e his mind time t : .^rasp the grandeur of this unique forest, and the charm- 
ing features of the improved portion of the park, he will be thrilled with admiration for the grand work of na- 
ture as beautified by the ideal handiwork of man, and his heart will swell with gratitude for the generosity of 
Hon. Thomas W. Palmer and the liberality of the peo^le of Detroit, by whom this famous producer of health 
and happiness is made free for the enjoyment of everybody. 

Ali.xed with the trees and native to the park there are more than fort\- kinds of shrubs and plants, including 
flowering dogwood, hazelnut, wintergreen, huckleberry, raspberry, blackberry, hnncysuckle, poison ivy. goose- 
berry, currant and rose. 

In the wooded portion of the park not many improvements have been made. There is a small section 
cleared in which are a few swings, a teeter boanj, a merry-go-round, a may pole, lunch tables and seats for small 
parties and long tables and seats for large parties. There is an open pavilion on the east side large enough to 
shelter 500 people. It has a refreshment staml attached where soft drinks, cakes, fruit, ice cream and other 
refreshments are sold at moderate prices. Several |5aths and roarls meander through the woods. 


Near the west side of the wider portion of the park is a beautiful small lake bearing the above name, it con- 
tains one island called "Inselruhe." which is connected with the main land by two rustic bridges. There is a 
high mound on the north side with a rockv face toward the lake broken into pools and dams. When the water 
is turned on it pushes from a small hole in the to]) and falls into pool after pool and over dam after dam on its 
way down to the lake, forming a beautiful miniature cataract. This fountain has been named — Pontiac Cas- 
cade. This lake is now called ""Tlarold" in honor of Mr. Palmer's son. 


On the east side of Lake Harold is a large and handsome Casino, two and a half stories liigh with porches 
on each side. It has a commanding view and stands on high and beautiful gnnnids. 

In the north end cif the park is a large nursery used for starting the growth of the various ornamental trees, 
shrubs and plants n^ed in beautifying all the parks owned by the city of Detroit. Thousands of shrubs and 
plants and hundreds nf trees having a value of six thousand dollars and upwards, are taken from this nursery 
yearly, thus proving it to ]je a very impm-tant adjunct to the park system of Detroit. 

.\bout 10(1(1 feet east of the Casino are the liot houses and glass sheds where thousands of flowers are got 
ready for transplanting in the many flower beds of the park. The hot houses co-operate with the nursery. 


This building is about 30 feet wide and 45 feet long, besides a large chimney at each end built ofltside and a 
frame addition on the west side called the kitchen. The house is two stories high, it is built of round logs with 
the bark on, most of them are oak and one foot in diameter. The house rests on a brick foundation, the chim- 
neys are made of logs four to six inches in diameter, above the roof the logs in the chimneys are four inches 
thick, the wooden shades over the windows are made of sticks three inches in diameter. The house has a shingle 

On the outside, the Log Cabin looks like a substantial, genuine log house, on the inside it comes pretty near 
being a very good modern house. The inside walls and ceilin.i.^- are plastered, the floors are laid with white 
maple and walnut, in places with alternate strips of each. The finishing wood is oak throughout, carved in some 
places. The house is w-ell planned ; on the first floor a wide hall runs through the house, with a substantial oak 
staircase at one end. On the north side is a large dining room with sliding doors between it and the hall, on 
the south side is a large parlor also provided with sliding doors. ■ In each of these rooms are large fire-])laces 
built of pressed red brick. Over the front door outside, is a pair of large elk's horns. 


Ill this hall is a good large portrait of Senator Palmer and small |i(irtraits of Charles Merrill, Thomas T'almer 

and lames W'itherell, alsn Inr-e portraits of Mr. and Mrs. James Witherell. .Senat...- ralmerV oraii.lparents. A 

pictnre nf the liattle ni Lexin.<;lMn lian.--, on the wall. There is a |ieii ],ortrait .,f .Senat., r Palmer in very fine 

writin-. It being hi-, hiograi.liy. .\ .[ufi,-,] elk\ head is fastened 1,, the wall. .\ stuffed hlne henm rest.s on a 

m-namental tahleware, jiijies, moecasins ^\:e, .Vc. There is also an old writing desk. 'llanging to tl'ie eeiliiig 
are two large old style -i|nare lanterns. Hanging on the wall is a gronp pictnre of Senator Palmer and his three 
sisters, it was taken when he vva.s seventeen years old, one sister was yonnger and two were older than he. 

( )n the landing of the stairway is a clock that stands eight feet high which has an interesting history. A 
hrass plate attached to the clock hears the following inscription: — 

"I'nrchased bv I'.enjamin Palmer 

1702, • 

Uescended to his son Benjamin Palmer. 
Taken from the honse wdiere his son 
Thomas Palmer was born, bv bis grandson 
Thomas W. Palmer. An.g. 11, is.s.V 

Fastened to the ceiling are strips (jf wood (log cabin style) to which are hung a birch bark canoe, bunches 
of herbs and other things. In the firejilace is an iron crane with an iron pot and iron tea kettle hanging on it and 
andirons on which to lav the woml. There are several primitiw cooking utensils and a warming pan made of two 
copper bowls about ten inches wide united with a hinge and having a handle of wood about three feet long. This pan 
was f(nMiierl\- used for warming beils; hot coals were placed in the bowds wdiich were then tightly closed, then 
the hot bowl was pushed back and forth across the bed under the covering until the Ijed would lie quite warm. 

A dinner tabic cuvcrc-d witli a white spread lias on it a set of old style blue dishes placed ready for use. There 
are several kinds of old chairs, a wrxjden high chair thnt Senator Palmer occu])ied before he could say "dough- 
nuts," and a similar high chair that .Mrs. Palmer occupie.l when she was cutting teeth. On the mantel are sev- 
eral brass girandoles with glass pendants. ( )ver the mantel hanging to the chimney is a tlint Iwk musket, such 
as the early pioneers used to rely ui>on when threatened by savage beasts or savage men. and which was fre- 
(|uently used to down a deer to sujjjjly fresh meat for the family tabic. There is a common spinning wheel, a reel, 
a flax spinning wheel, a bed ready for use. a dash churn, a cherry sideboard, a bellows, a sword, an Indian bow. 
(|uiver and arrow, some Indian baskets, a brass coffee pot. sugar snips for crushing loaf sugar, two silver casters, 
six ivorv napkin rings, a stand of candle moulds, and hanging to the wall are |)i)rtraits of Ccorgc \Va>hington. 
.Martha Washington and John Ouincy .\dams. The chairs painted red were bniuglit fmm \\rnioiit l)y Judge 
Withercll in isiis. They were nulcly constructed, but were strong. 

Till'. KlTCili'.X. 

This r<;iim is fully ci|uip])C(l willi a cooking slnve. cooking ulen>ii-, -ink ami ;ill necessary conveniences. 

Till-: I'ARl.OR. 

in iJii- room is a vcrv old piano: in front of it is a stool the four legs of which are in one piejc, brace- run 
from leg to leg. the whole being a natural growth and a real and useful curiosity; the seat i> nia.'e of slats of 
wood. There is a large bureau, a hook case, several old rocking chairs, high, low and small. L\ing on a table 
is a large Hint lock jiistol. Poles are fastened to the ceiling from which hang ears of corn and bunches of 
herbs. In pioneer days apples cut to be dried were .strung on threads and hung to such poles, also seed corn 
and bunches of herbs, such as our good mother doctors knew so well how to use in making medicine. I'epper- 
mint. catnij). sage. Ijoneset. thyme, smartwecd and sweet Hag were among the common varieties. Hanging 
on the wall of the parlor is a picture of Mary Palmer church. 

There is a comfortable old style bed in one corner on a liigit-])o-.i \v;ilnin liedsleail 
rag rugs are on the tloor. .\ substantial old style low cradle, lo. d enongli lor a moder 
attractions. The use of this cradle be^^a'i about IS-.'-.'. In it were rocked all of ."-^enat. 
nine children and three of her grandchildren. 



ts an<l 
t.. the 


er's m 


On the mantel over the fireplace are several handsome brass girandoles with glass pendants. There is 
a Mexican saddle and spurs, several sword-fish swords, a pair of snow shoes, a fancy stand with drawers, on 
top of which is an old curly maple writing desk. A large mahogany cased clock, standing about seven feet 
liigh, is an object of much interest; this clock was bought by Mr. Palmer's grandfather, James Witherell, in 
1787 and kept good time for more than 100 years. When Mr. Witherell moved from \'ermont to Michigan 
in ISOS the clock was left behind. It was recovered by Hon. Thomas W. Palmer in l.S7(). 

TJu- fnlldwing verse written bv an unknown poet some vears ago and since printed, is attached to the 
clock : 

"1 am old and worn as my face appears. 
For I've walked on time for a hundred years: 
Many have fallen since I begun, 
Alany will fall ere my course is run ; 
I've buried the world with its joys and fears. 
In my long, long march of one hundred years." 

Lying on a table in the parlor are seven brass chains with brass plates attache 1 mi which names are en- 
graved. For several years Senator Palmer would honor United States senators who visited the Log Cabin 
by allowing them to plant a tree. A brass chain was put around the tree and the name on the plate showed who 
it was planted by. The plates bear the following names: — Blair, of New Hampshire; Hiscock, of New York; 
Harris, of Tennessee: Reagan, of Texas; Sawyer, of Wisconsin; Conger, of Michigan, and McMillan, of Michi- 


This titior has a Vavj^v hall in the center ard a bedroom in each corner. The bedrooms are much alike; the 
two on the north ^i.le ami ihc two on the south side are connected by double sliding doors. There is a bed in 
each <in Iiigh-])()si nialmyaiiy bedsteads. Each bedroom is well furnished with substantial, old stvle furniture 
."ud there is a wood .stove in eacli one. In the southwest chamber are silver candlesticks and in the northwest 
chamber candlesticks of china and pewter. There are pictures on the walls in the hall and in the bedrooms. 


In the hall in a frame hanging to the wall is an excellent specimen of needle work done in 1820 by a girl 
twelve years old, named Eliza Bowdoin Pitts, who afterward became the annt of Mrs. Palmer. She died in 


The location of the Log Cabin is very beautiful, the ground is high and is adorned with beautiful shade 
trees, fine fruit trees, beds of flowers, flowering shrubs, a fine lawn and nicely rounded banks bordering Lake 
Frances. The view to the south and east is both picturesque and charming. Before the eye of the visitor li^s 
the pretty lake with its dolly islands, beyond are the little hills, the rest-house, the pathways and roadways 
leading to Woodward Avenue with its busy traffic and street cars nearly always in sight. Throngs of happy 
visitors going and coming give animation tn the scene. 

Directly in front of the Log Cabin a path leads down stone steps to a little dock with a railing around it 
where children may go to look at the goldfish and the ducks. 

At the main entrance to the Log Cabin Grounds is a well of excellent drinking water, where the visitor 
can draw for himself a cool drink with an "old oaken bucket." 

To the great credit of the tens of thousands of people who visit Palmer Park, it must be said that they are 
respectable, orderly and law-abiding in an unusual degree. The overseer has only been required to use his 
police powers twice in ten years to maintain order. A majority of the visitors are women, young people and 
children. Frequently whole families come, especially on Sundays., Church picnics, Sunday School picnics, 
teachers and their classes, and various benevolent and social organizations are among the patrons. As many 
as 15,000 persons have occupied the park on a Sunday afternoon. 

Palmer Park, as well as all the other public parks of Detroit, is under the care and management of Hon. 
Philip Rreitmeyer, Park Commissioner. 

The Commissioner has an able assistant in his secretary, M. P. Hurlbut. 

The Overseer of Palmer Park is R. A. llollister, who Hves in the vvliite cottage. He has held his position 
for ten years and has thus demonstrated his efficiency. 


Passengers comin'^ fmm tin.- north mi interurban cars can alight at the jiark. l'asscn^'cr> <in other intcr- 
iirban lines can ask tor transfers for \V\)odward .\veniic. Passengers hy any lini' liaving transfer tickets, on 
arriving at Woodward Avoniie. must lie careful to get on onlv those cars that have on the front end the sign — 

Passengers arriving by the steam railroads or by steamlxiats have only to board the Woodward Avenue car< 
directly, or by transfer lines, to be conveyed to the park for five cents. 

Citizens of Detroit living in any part of the city, whether one mile or ten niiks from the park, can reach it 
at a cost of five cents by following the above directions. 

The Woodward Avenue car line has a double track all the wa> to Palmer Park. It docs not cross over 
any steam railroad track or bridge. The tracks arc smooth, the cars large and strong, frequent service is 
given, and taken as a whole, the road is one of the safest, most comfortable and best managed electric railways 
in the world. 


Come all who enjoy the country breeze, 
Or odor sweet of the furest trees: 
The fragrance of the iirett\- tluwers, 
Or feel the need of idle honrs. 

Come you venerable sires and dames. 
And teach the children at playing games; 
Join heart and soul in the merry throng. 
And let happy hours your lives prolong. 

Von men who b'.'ar the burden of toil. 
Come here and rest on your own free soil; 
.Vnd freed for a while from care and strife. 
Drink your lieart's full of the joys of life. 

L'ome here you weary mothers and rest. 
Lay your burdens down on Nati:re's breast: 
And watching your children romp and play. 
Let your cares and sorrows tly away. 

Come Ijoys and girls you are welcome, too. 
The whole of this park is free to you ; 
^'ou can jointly play games that are mild. 
Or roam as deer through the forest wild. 


.MI.S. r\L.\lKK 

Sage of Log Cabin Farm. 

Having in view liis l:)roa(l knowledge of the affairs of the world, his keen insight into the motives that actuate 
his fellow-creatnres, his extensive reading fastened in his memory by travel and contact, his culture, buoyancy 
and amiability which enable him to drop from his lips opportune epigrams of wit and wisdom, and his phil- 
osophic mind which gives him the power to apply the rule of reason to events that occur from day to day 
affecting his business and his happiness, it seems to the writer that the Hon. Thomas W. Palmer justly deserves 
the distinction of being called: "The Sage of Log Cabin Farm." 

Senator Palmer, as he is known to many of his friends, was born in Detroit, January 2oth, 1830. His father 
was Thomas Palmer, a man of genial qualities and large business capacity. His mother was Mary Amy With- 
erell, daughter of Judge James Witherell, of Detroit, a woman of many noble qualities, held in very sacred re- 
membrance by her distinguished son. In 1808 James Witherell, then living in Vermont, was appointed a United 
States judge for the territory of Michigan by Thomas Jefferson, then president, and he removed to Detroit the 
same year. Amy Hawkins, wife of Judge Witherell and Senator Palmer's grandmother, was a decendant of 
Roger Williams, the famous Puritan minister who founded the commonwealth of Rhode Island, and was one 
of the earliest, bravest and ablest advocates of liberty of conscience and the absolute separation of church and 
state. Senator Palmer is justifiably proud of his relationship to this great man. 

In the year 1818 Senator Palmer's father and mother (then Miss Witherell) had the unique experience of 
being passengers on the steamer Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat that ever navigated Lake Erie, on her round trip between Buffalo and Detroit ; and again when on their bridal tour, on her last trip, when she 
was wrecked, in the fall of 1821. 

At the age of twelve years Mr. Palmer was sent to St. Clair to attend Thompson's Academy. During his 
stay in St. Clair, he formed the acquaintance of men, women, boys and girls of whom he has retained ever since 
a remarkably vivid recollection. 

After leaving the Academy at St. Clair, he attended the University of Michigan a year and a half, when 
trouble with his eyes caused him to leave the University before graduating. 

SI \ \i'i h; I' \i,\ii.i;s ik imi 

In the fall of 184S, with five others, he made a voyage to Spain. He landed at Cadiz and traveled on foot 
for two months, visiting the famous Alhambra and other places of interest. From Spain he went to Rio Jan- 
eiro, South America. After spending three months in South America, he returned to his home, spending two 
months in the southern states on the way. While in Spain and Si>uth America he learned to speak the Spanish 
language to some extent. 

After a short experience in the mercantile business in \\ iscunsin, he returned to Detroit in lS5.'i. In 1855 
he engaged in the lumber trade and in a few years was heavily interested in the manufacture of lumber and the 
purchase and sale of pine lands. This business enabled him to amass a large fortune. He is now the owner of 
much valuable real estate in Detroit and has other important interests. He is entirely out of the lumber busi- 
ness, except that he still has some lands for sale. 

In the year 1855 he was married to Lizzie P., daughter of Charles Merrill, of Detroit, a wealthy lumber- 
man. No children came to bless this union. Later Mrs. Palmer dropped the P. and substituted M. in her name. 

For a number of years Mr. Palmer took an active interest in stock-raising and kept on his farm the finest 
breeds of horses and cattle. He was for a time president of the State Agricultural Society. While taking a 
lively interest in agricultural matters he employed his friend, Hon. Eber W. Cottrell, to go to Eur&pe and buy 
for him an Arabian stallion and other horses. Mr. Cottrell found the desired Arabian horse near Damascus, in 
Palestine. He also bought for the Senator, in France, between sixty and seventy thousand dollars' worth of 
Percheron horses. He has gone out <>{ horse raising, Init still retains on his farm a large herd of cows all of the 
Jersey breed. 

Mr. Palmer has been a consistent member of the Republican party ever since it was organized in the year 
1854. In the year 1878 he was elected a state senator and served one term. He was popular, faithful to his 
duties and was justly regarded as a leading senator. In 1883 he was chosen by the legislature a senator of 
the United States. In that body he was respected for his .solid a<-i|iiirciiients and his amiability. Although not 
much given to speech-making, he can, when occasion calls fcir it. niaki- an able speech and express his views in 
the choicest English words. He did some good work in the Lnited States senate and served one term of six 

In the year 1889 he was appointed hy President Harrison Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary to Spain. This was the first appointment made by President Harrison after lie had selected his cabinet, 
lie served one year in this |X)sition. 

Just after his return from Spain, in 1890, he was apjiointcd by President Harrison, commissioner at large of 
The World's Columbian Commission. He was chosen president of the commission by its 13G members. In this 
high office Senator I'almer acquitted himself with grent credit. Sometimes differences arose among the fair 
managers which he reconciled by the exercise of diplomacy and strong common sense. He labored for har- 
mony and helped materially to make the Worbrs Fair at Chicago in ISU.'i the grand success that it was. 

When the Infanta Eulalia, a member of the royal family of .Spain, arrived in Chicago, President Palmer 
was able to converse with her in her native tongue, much to her delight. He served an elegant breakfast to 
Eulalia and her husband, I'rince .Antonio, which was spread at I P. M. in the .Administration liuilding. 

By reason of the high ptisitions he has filled and his extensive acquaintance. Senator Palmer must be re- 
garded as Detroit's most distinguished citizen. His popularity is based on his intelligence, his wit, his adapt- 
ability, his social nature, his excellent mastery of the ICnglish language, and his generosity. He is the pet of 
Detroit, and the man who is first thought of for chairman nf public meetings when some famous |)ersoii of 
national or foreign reputation is to be introduced. 

As a iiliilanthropist the Senator works quietly and without ostentation. He has contributed liberally to the 
needy for many years. Among his ])ublic donations may be mentioned •1il.j,()()0 given to lielji build a Methodist 
church on McDougall .Avenue, named the ".Mary Palmer Church," in memory of his mother. He gave $17,<irfO 
to the Museum of .Art ;$"). (1(10 to the Masonic Tcm]ile: $]ii,(toii to the ."Superannuated I'leaciur--' Aid Society, 
and has bellied in many similar liencvolent enteqirises. 

Mrs. I'almer's liberality should not be overlooke<l. Besides tlie large sum sjicnt on i'.ilnier l';irk. she ex- 
pended more than $20,(11111 in building the heanlifnl whit,- marble llnm;iiU' I'"iuintaiii xu llie C:Mn|)Us Martins, as 
a memorial to her father. 

.'senator Pahner has met many eminent penple. among them F.milin C.-iNtuhir, the nmsi distinguished Sjian- 
iard : the Oueen Regent <>i S|)aiii. and all the jiresidents fnim Hayes to T\oo>fvelt. 

He likes the good things the earth produces and yet is a moderate eater and Hves mostly on plain food. 
When in political life he was fond of entertaining his friends with elaborate dinners, choice cigars and some- 
times with music. As a host he is nigh to perfection as he has the rare faculty of making each of his guests feel 
that he is receiving special attention. 

He is fond of poetry and carries a good deal in his memory. Of the American poets he places Oliver 
Wendell Holmes at the head of the list. Of the ulder I'.ritish poet^ his favorites are Addison. Po]3e and Gold- 

In his business affairs the Senator has shown unusual capacity. He manages so adroitly that his business 
gives him ver\- little trouble. He does the planning and trusts the detail work to his agents and clerks. He 
does'nt believe in worrying, or in wearing life away by hard work. 

Asked what his motive was in dijnating Palmer Park to the people of Detroit, his answer was : "The good 
of everybody." 

Senator Palmer holds the view that Heaven is on earth to all who know how to make a Heaven of the 
earthly life. He thinks that a man's spiritual life is progressive and continues to grow after it pass^ out of the 
animal body, and that the further advanced it is when transition takes place the higher will be its starting point 
in tlie spirit world. Hence it follows that the time spent in cultivating and building up the spiritual life while 
on earth will not be lost. 

The Senator's favorite pastime is auto riding with one or two intelligent and ji)vial comjianions. He keeps 
a fine auto-carriage and a careful driver. 

\\'hen in Spain Mr. Palmer adopted a Spanish boy only three years old, brouglit him to Detroit and gave him 
the name of Harold Palmer. This boy is now twenty-one years old and, to the credit of his adopted parents, is a 
fine young man. 

Mr. F'almer also adopted a daughter and brought her up in the way that girls should grow; she is now Mrs. 
Rice, and is a robust lady of intelligence and refined manners. 

].nr, (WAS I'Ainr. 

I^xcq.l al ils jmiclinn with Wn-nhvanl Avoinic. ralnuT Park i^ i-titin-ly .urn .nn.lcl hy 1...- Cal)in l"ariu. 
Tlic- farm contain.-, alx.iu (ido aero of land of whicli r.'i» acres arc ka>c(l to ihc IX-lroit Golf Club. The re- 
mainder is used as a farm, but it embraces considerable forest. Tlie farm is managed by a competent siiper- 
tcndent who lives on it. Houses for the farm help, a large bam. several stables, sheds and the other necessary 
buil(!ings arc located a short ilistancc from the main residence. These buildings constitute a considerable settle- 

si':.\.\T( H< 1'.\i..mi-;r's iio.mI'.. 

The family mansion is a comi)osite building with a dre>>ed stone foundation, capjjcd with dressed sand- 
stone, a steel frame, cement walls and cement lloors covered with quartered oak. The outside walls are made of 
pressed red brick. It contains three finished stories, although its appearance is that of a two antl a half story 
house, there being dormer windows in the roof. The finishing wood is black walnut throughout and is liberally 
used. The door frames, window frames, mirror frames and mantels over the firejilaces are all of black walnut. 
The .style is massive and the work is adorned with round columns with carved caps, heavy cornices richly carved, 
and is ])artly veneered with beautiful light-colored French walnut. There is a heavy paneled waiiiscotling 
thirty-four inches high in the main sitting room and main stairway. 

The house is l<jcated diagonally across the line of longitude so that the corners i)oint to the north, south, 
east and west. This wise idea gives the house a southeast front, the most desirable one to be had, and per- 
mits the sun to shine on every room in the house. The house has a double front, one to the northwest and one 
to the soutiieast. The center rooms on the first and second floors are used as reception and sitting riH)ms. The 
parlor is in the south corner, the dining room in the east corner, the lilirary in the west corner, and the kitchen 
in the north corner. The house is nearly fire-jjroof and is regarded as one of the most substantially Intilt housc'^ 
in the state of Michigan. 

>>. where one can enjoy a >ini bath without being e.K- 
i-iiu when heal is needed. The horse is heated by 
<r. diniii!' noni ;uid other room-, there beiui; eiiiht in 

( )n the s. 

lUtheast >ide is a wid, 

.■ ]>ori 

.-h inclosed 

po.sed to cold ' 

rtiud. .\ larj-e -team 


itor wann- 

steam, hut tlu 

•re are fireplace- in t 

he -it 

tiug rooms 

all. ihe fuel used in the fireplaces is wood; in cold or damp days a brisk fire brings warmth and cheer to the 
visitor. A fire is made every night in the main sitting room fireplace, winter and summer, as the suction cre- 
ated carries off the vitiated air and adds to the comfort of the occupants. 

The house is square in form and about 43 feet by 60 feet in size, with a one-story addition to the northeast 
end. It is approached by paths and roadways from Walnut Lane on the north and from the Si.x Mile Road 
on the south. 

The grounds are large, contain statues of historic characters and statues of deer. There are many handsome 
shade trees, flower beds, ornamental shrubs and so forth, a pond and a hothouse. 

Mr. Palmer's library is large and contains many rare and valuable books. There are many fine paintings 
and articles of interest in the house which want of space prevents being mentioned. An excellent full-length 
portrait of the Senator, painted by Eastman Johnson, adorns the parlor. 

The adornment of the Log Cabin grounds will not be complete until a life-size statue of Mrs. Palmer is placed 
therein, showing her with hand extended in the act of directing some work of improvement. 

AUG 1 I9U& 

The Publishers of this Souvenir have on sale 
at all Bookstores 

Maps of Detroit, Micliigan, and Wayne County. 

Also Handy Guide to the City of Detroit. 
If the dealer is out of them, address, 

Silas Farmer & Company 

29-31 Monroe Avenue 
Detroit, - Michigan. 



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